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    Coronavirus - advice and information for recreational boaters

    Guidance for boaters (updated 02/12/20)

    Government Guidance

    The Government has announced new measures to suppress the virus and keep the number of infections down and it has emphasised that it is critical for everybody to observe the following key behaviours:

    • HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.
    • FACE - Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
    • SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).

    RYA return to boating strategy

    The RYA has published a considerable amount of detailed information to support its “Return to Boating” strategy across the boating community.  The RYA has also published updated FAQ for clubs, classes and RYA recognised training centres. 

    In the Home Countries, the RYA return to boating strategy may be at different stages dependant on how the devolved administrations assess the threat. People who live in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow the guidance provided by their administrations and in the country specific links that follow further below.

    1. Our guidance

    Covid-19 preventative measures are vital in keeping you, your family and others safe and to minimise pressure on frontline services. The RYA will continue to support the national effort to control the spread of Covid-19 and assist members of the RYA family with any variations that might develop at a local level.  We support the Government's Winter Plan to return to normality in a measured way and we recognise that we have a role to play by providing guidance to the RYA community on the application of the 2020 regulations.

    2. Our approach

    Our guidance on safe boating remains unchanged: know your limits; look after yourself; keep in touch and, above all, have a plan; we advise boaters to think carefully about these factors.

    As always, we should carefully consider the potential impact that we could have on other water users when we go afloat and ensure that we do not place any unnecessary strain on the RNLI, Independent Lifeboats and other emergency services.  We can do this by helping to minimise risk and by taking an extra considerate approach to our boating.

    Coronavirus regulations

    The regulations enable the Government and devolved administrations to respond to the serious and imminent threat to public health which is posed by the incidence and spread of the virus.  

    While guidance sets out how Governments expect people should behave, the regulations set out how people must behave and it is the regulations (rather than the guidance) that may be enforced within the law.

    The regulations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are now significantly diverse but are still aimed at controlling the virus. People in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow the specific rules in those parts of the UK and read the more detailed guidance on the RYA Home Country pages referred to below and which is relevant to boating in the Home Counties. 

    Recreational boating in England

    The Government has signalled that the current national restrictions in England will end on 2 December and with it the requirement not to leave the place where you live without a reasonable excuse. 

    England will return to a regionally differentiated approach, where three tiers of restrictions will apply in different parts of the country.  These tiers will be strengthened compared to the previous tiers and will impose the toughest measures only in the areas where the virus is most prevalent or where there are sharper increases in the rate of infection. 

    The new rules will come into effect from the beginning of Wednesday 2 December and the Government’s Winter Plan sets out the detail for each tier. 

    Find out what tier your local area is in.

    On 2 December, across all of England, regardless of tier:

    • The requirement to stay at home unless you have a reasonable excuse to leave will end, with domestic and international travel being permitted again subject to guidance in each tier. 
    • Grassroots sport, including sailing and boating, will be allowed to resume from this date – clubs and marinas will be able to reopen. 
    • People will no longer be limited to seeing only one other person in outdoor public places – the rule of 6 will now apply as it did in the previous set of tiers

    The government has assessed that stronger measures are needed in some areas to prevent the epidemic from growing. Briefly, and from what we know so far, the following table summarises the restrictions that will apply in each tier in England.

     Activity Tier 1 - Medium Alert Tier 2 - High Alert Tier 3 - Very High Alert
    Meeting with others

    You can see people from different households both indoors and outdoors but only in groups of up to 6 people from different households - "the rule of 6".

    You should maintain social distancing from anyone not in your household or support bubble.

    You can see people from different households outside in groups of up to 6 people but you can only meet inside with those in your household or support bubble.

    You should maintain social distancing from anyone not in your household or support bubble.

    You can only meet with others in "public outdoor places", such as beaches or parks, but only in groups of up to 6 people from different households. 

    You can only meet indoors or in private outdoor spaces, such as someone's garden, with those in your household or support bubble.

    You should maintain social distancing from anyone not in your household or support bubble.

    Exercise, sporting and physical activity 

    Sailing clubs and marinas can open. 

    All forms of informal or self-organised recreational boating are permitted within the legal limits for meeting others.

    Sailing clubs and marinas can open.   

    All forms of informal or self-organised recreational boating are permitted within the legal limits for meeting others.

    Sailing clubs and marinas can open.

    All forms of informal or self-organised recreational boating are permitted within the legal limits for meeting others.

    Hospitality - club bars and restaurants

    Restaurants and bars can be open. However, they must provide table service only.

    They should close by 11pm and take last orders at 10pm.

    The rule of 6 applies.

    Takeaway and delivery services can remain open after 10pm.

    Restaurants and bars must close unless they operate as restaurants and are able to serve a substantial meal providing table service only. Alcohol can only be served with a substantial meal.  

    They should close by 11pm and take last orders at 10pm.  

    You can only go to these places with people from your household or support bubble.

    Takeaway and delivery services can remain open after 10pm.

    Takeaway and delivery services can remain open. 
    Travel 

    You can continue to travel to venues and amenities which are open.

    If you live in a tier 1 area and travel to a higher tier you should follow the rules for the higher tier.

    Avoid travel into tier 3 areas but you can travel through a tier 3 area as part of a longer journey.

    You can continue to travel to venues and amenities which are open.

    If you live in a tier 2 area you must continue to follow tier 2 rules when you travel to a tier 1 area.

    You should avoid travel to a tier 3 area but if you do you must follow the rules for tier 3.

    You can travel through a tier 3 area as part of a longer journey.

    You can continue to travel to venues and amenities which are open.

    You are advised not to travel outside of a tier 3 area for sport, unless this is necessary to enable individual exercise (or exercise for people from the same household or support bubble). 

    You can travel through other areas as part of a longer journey.

    Staying overnight 

    You can only stay overnight somewhere if it's with those in your household, support bubble or within the rule of 6.

    Avoid overnight stays in tier 3 areas unless needed for work, education or similar.

    You can only stay overnight somewhere if it's with those in your household or support bubble.

    Avoid overnight stays in tier 3 areas unless needed for work, education or similar.

    Accommodation must close with certain exceptions.

    Avoid travel and overnight stays outside of a tier 3 area unless needed for work, education or similar. This should only be with those in your household or support bubble. 

    Recreational boating in Scotland

    Updated guidance available at the Return to Boating page of the RYA Scotland website continues to provide support and detailed guidance across all forms of boating.

    Follow the RYA Scotland website for up to date information in Scotland.

    Recreational boating in Northern Ireland

    New restrictions come into force from 27 November 2020 - find out what they mean for you at this link: Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions from 27 November 2020.

    More information from RYA Northern Ireland can be found here.

    Recreational boating in Wales

    For the latest information, please visit the RYA Cymru Wales Return to Boating Wales pages.

    Insurance

    The RYA’s advice to all our members is that you should check your insurance policy with your insurers no matter what the policy itself actually states, particularly if your policy pre-dates the Covid-19 pandemic measures and the latest restriction are preventing you from visiting your boat. Our understanding is that most insurers are willing to extend the period when boats are left unattended and we would be surprised if any insurer refused to extend this provision, although there is likely to be a condition that the vessel must have been adequately maintained prior to lockdown.

    UK canals and rivers

    Guidance for the Canal & River Trust navigations was last updated on 9 November and you should look at its coronavirus and boating FAQs for more information.

    Guidance on Environment Agency waterways was last updated on 5 November.

    Recreational boating abroad

    The FCDO currently advises against all but essential travel to many countries and territories on the basis of COVID risks. Different rules apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  You must follow all the rules that apply to you.    

    The European Union has set up a website and a mobile app where you can see if travel is possible to each member state, the requirements of each destination, and other information to answer travellers’ questions. Go to Re-open EU for travel information and guidelines for each destination.

    Noonsite provides a considerable amount of information that may help recreational boaters abroad and its Covid-19 document has guidance as well as links to all the latest developments.  Noonsite also has information on protocols in place in the Caribbean.   

    Noonsite has also produced a mapping feature on its website which can be accessed from the small blue icon on the right hand side of the Noonsite screen.

    Entering or returning to the UK

    Coronavirus regulations mean that you must self-isolate for 14 days on entering or returning to the UK and it applies to all travel to England, by train, ferry, coach, air or any other route.

    From 15 December, travellers arriving in England from non-exempt countries, territories or regions can stop self-isolating by opting to take a COVID-19 test at their own choice and cost on or after 5 full days after their arrival in England or since they were last in a non-exempt country, territory or region, and where the results of such test are negative.

    Before your arrival in the UK, you must complete a passenger locator form. You must present these details on your arrival in England. This applies to both visitors and UK residents. There are a small number of groups of people who are exempt.

    However, the government is satisfied that it is now safe to ease these measures in England and you may not have to self-isolate when you arrive if you are returning from one of the countries or territories listed here. That is because these countries or territories are:

    • covered by the travel corridor exemption;
    • within the common travel area (Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man);
    • British overseas territories.

    However, you will still need to self-isolate if you visited or made a transit stop in a country that is not on the list in the 14 days before your return to England. 

    Scotland - you should read the guidance on travel rules and restrictions and protection levels, including information on essential travel together with the quarantine rules and information on the process for people entering the UK.

    Northern Ireland - you should read the guidance on travel and holidays that applies in Northern Ireland. 

    Wales - you should read this guidance on travel to Wales.  It is for people arriving directly in Wales and for those arriving at a port elsewhere in the UK and then travelling to Wales. 

    International recreational vessel arrivals

    Attention is drawn to the following requirements for those arriving at a UK port on recreational vessels from overseas. 

    Unless exempt, all international recreational maritime arrivals entering the UK will need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival into the UK. This self-isolation can be completed on the vessel if arrivals choose to do so. These rules apply to both UK residents and visitors. 

    All international recreational maritime vessels arriving in the UK, apart from those travelling from the Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man (the Common Travel Area/CTA), must complete a mandatory Passenger Locator Form.   

    To get in touch

    Should RYA members require any advice related to the guidance on this page please contact the RYA Cruising Team on +44 (0) 23 8060 4233 (please have your membership number to hand) or email cruising@rya.org.uk (please include your membership number in your email).

    For other enquiries, call the RYA on +44 (0) 23 8060 4100. 

    Page updated: 2 December 2020

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